Apr 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

United Airlines CEO: customers can get refund after mask mandate ruling

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby told the "Today" show Thursday that customers can get a refund for purchased tickets if they don’t want to fly after a federal judge in Florida struck down the mask mandate earlier this week.

Why it matters: The Transportation Security Administration stopped enforcing the mandate after the ruling, which was appealed by Department of Justice on Wednesday.

The big picture: The DOJ's appeal came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it concluded that the order remains necessary.

  • Several airlines and transportation companies lifted their mask requirements after U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle's ruling.
  • The U.S. is averaging around 40,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases each day — a slight increase after roughly two months of plummeting cases, according to data from the CDC.

What they're saying: Despite the appeal, Kirby said he believes it is "very unlikely" that a mask requirement will come back in the foreseeable future.

  • "COVID is going to be with us, it's going to be endemic and it's going to be here a long time, but we're learning to live with that, including in airports, in restaurants or at sporting events," Kirby said.
  • United is already considering removing its mask mandate before the ruling, Kirby said, though he stressed that customers and employees are free to wear a mask.
  • "For customers like that, that are immunocompromised or that have other concerns or issues, we are working with those customers if they don't want to fly."

Go deeper: How companies are responding to traveler mask mandate ruling

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